The Ultimate Chobe National Park Safari Guide


There are some truly incredible travel experiences that you can have throughout the world but visiting Africa and going out on safari is one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences that I have been fortunate enough to enjoy. Getting up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing and endangered animals in their natural environment is something you need to experience first-hand to appreciate. I have been lucky enough to have gone on safari in seven different national parks, and three different reserves, all in four different African countries. I have treasured each of these experiences greatly for their own different reasons, but my favorite has undoubtedly been my Chobe National Park safari this past autumn.

Chobe National Park is unlike any other national park that you can tour in Africa. It is home to one of the largest concentrations of elephants on the continent, is at the epicenter of Botswana’s great zebra migration, and offers one of the wildest and most authentic safari experiences you will find anywhere. Whether you decide to take a boat safari in the Chobe Riverfront Region to see herds of elephants playing in the water amongst hippos and crocodiles or venture into the wild interior of the Savute Region to see the park’s dense population of apex predators hunt big game, a Chobe National Park safari will leave an imprint on your soul that will be with you for your lifetime. An African safari is truly one of the world’s most incredible travel adventures and Chobe National Park is one of Africa’s most amazing parks to have that experience.

Chobe National Park Safari - Elephant

It is for this reason that I have created this Ultimate Chobe National Park Safari Guide. Not only do I want to share my incredible experience and safari photographs with you to inspire you to have your own adventure, but I want to give you the resources you will need to successfully make that inspiration and reality. In this Chobe National Park safari guide, I will let you know what requirements you will need to visit Botswana, give you some tips on how to get to the park, let you know which regions of the park you can visit, and provide you with information on which tours, lodges, and campsites I recommend. With this information in hand, you should be able to confidently plan an incredible safari adventure in Chobe National Park that you’ll never forget.

Botswana Entrance Requirements
Travel Immunizations
What to Bring
How to Get There
Recommended Tours
Best Times to Visit
Where to Stay
The Wildlife You May See
Safari Tips
Safety Tips
Safari Photo Gallery

Botswana Entrance Requirements

Before you depart for your Chobe National Park safari in Botswana, you will need to make sure that you meet all of the requirements for entry into the country. In order to assist you in this preparation, I have created a short article that outlines all of the Botswana entry requirements for visitors. This includes the necessary passport, VISA, and customs requirements that you will need to consider before you depart for your trip.


Travel Immunizations

Important Note: I am not a medical doctor and do not have any medical experience. The information provided in this section is a summary of information that I got from the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States for travel to Botswana. I am providing you this information to help bring awareness of the necessary vaccinations to you, but consultation of my guide should not replace a discussion about your travels with your doctor or a travel medical clinic.

One of the most important, and yet most often overlooked, aspects of travel is the necessary vaccinations that are required or recommended to keep you safe and healthy when you travel. Before you depart for Botswana, you are going to want to make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations.

Some of these vaccinations, like the Yellow Fever vaccination, are included in the Botswana entrance requirements if you are traveling to Botswana from certain high-risk locations. Other vaccinations, such as a flu shot and the Typhoid vaccine, are recommended, but not required.

For your convenience, I have summarized the CDC’s recommendations on vaccines and healthcare for travelers visiting Botswana for you to review in my “Botswana Passport, VISA, Customs, and Immunization Requirements” guide linked below.


What to Bring

If you are visiting Africa to go on safari for the first time, you might not be sure of what to bring with you. To help you with these questions as you prepare for your Chobe National Park safari, I have developed several guides that you should review. First, my article the “20 Tips for Those Visiting Africa for the First Time” will help you get prepared for what to expect when you arrive in Africa for the first time. It outlines what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, and gives you some tips that will help you know what to expect on your first visit to the continent of Africa.

Then, as you start to prepare for your trip, you will want to review my “Essential Safari Packing List” to make sure that you have all of the gear that you need and don’t pack what you won’t need with you. Finally, if you plan to take pictures on your safari, you will definitely want to review my “Tips for Photography on African Safaris” guide to make sure you get the best photographs possible to remember your adventure!


How to Get There

Depending on how you plan to take a Chobe National Park safari, there are several different ways in which you can plan to get there. Chobe National Park is a huge park that covers over 4,500 square miles, so where you plan to tour within the park will have a big impact on how you will want to get there. In this section of my Chobe National Park Safari Guide, I provide you with some valuable information on how it will be best for you to plan your transportation to Botswana.

Getting to the Park

There are two airports within 1.5-hours of Chobe National Park, one in Kasane, Botswana, and the other in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. In addition, there is also an airstrip for smaller aircraft that is located in the Savute area of Chobe National Park. If you are planning to book a multi-day safari in Chobe National Park, the tour operator you choose is likely to want to pick you up in either Kasane or will help you organize your flight into Savute.

For those who are visiting the Victoria Falls area and would like to take a full-day safari in Chobe National Park, many tour operators will organize transportation for the one-hour drive from Victoria Falls to Chobe National Park. This includes assisting you with the border crossing from Zimbabwe to Botswana and then back to Zimbabwe when your tour is finished. For a general understanding of where Chobe National Park is located in Botswana and relative to other parks and reserves in Botswana, please refer to the map I have included below.

Chobe National Park Safari - Botswana Park Map

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Chobe National Park Safari - Safari in Chobe

Because Chobe National Park is such a big park, it will be difficult to see all of it in one visit. Which parts of the park you visit will depend a great deal on how much time you want to spend in the park and what tour you choose to book. If you are in the process of looking at Chobe National Park safari tours and would like some assistance with choosing the right one for your trip, I have included some resources below to assist you.

Chobe National Park Map

Before you choose a tour operator for your Chobe National Park safari, I think it is really important to understand a little bit about Chobe National Park. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the park, Chobe National Park is divided up into four main areas. These areas include the Ngwenzumba Pans, Linyanti, Savute, and the Chobe Riverfront. To assist you in deciding which parts of the park you’d like to visit; I have included a park map and a description of each of these areas for you to review below.

Chobe National Park Safari - Chobe National Park Map

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If you are looking for a tour operator to use to see Chobe National Park in Botswana and will be flying into the Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe area, I would highly recommend using Africa Beast Safaris. Simon from Africa Beast Safaris is super passionate about what he does and takes extraordinary care of his customers. We used Africa Beast Safaris for our Chobe National Park tour and were thrilled with the level of service.

Chobe Riverfront Region

If you are interested in booking a day tour of Chobe National Park, these tours primarily focus on the Chobe Riverfront area of Chobe National Park. This area of the park is near the town of Kasane, which is roughly an hour West of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Many tour operators will facilitate travel from Victoria Falls to Chobe National Park for the day, including assistance in getting thru the border crossing to Botswana and back at the end of the tour. This makes day tours to Chobe National Park from Victoria Falls incredibly popular.

Most tours in the riverfront region include both land and boat safari. Depending on the tour operator you choose, this will include either a morning or afternoon boat cruise along the Chobe River, with a land safari the other half of the day and lunch in between. You will typically see large numbers of elephants, antelope, buffalo, and other grazing animals along the edge of the Chobe River and on the island between Botswana and Namibia. There is also a high concentration of crocodiles and hippos in the river, so they are frequently spotted on boat cruises as well.

Depending on when you visit, it isn’t uncommon to spot giraffes, elephants, antelope, and even lions and leopards on land safaris in the area. However, your chances of spotting wildlife from land in this region greatly increase when you visit during the dry season. If you are looking for a good day tour of Chobe National Park, here is a list of some tours I would recommend.


Linyanti Region

If you have more time to explore Chobe National Park and would like to maximize your chances of spotting predators, then one region of the park you might consider visiting is the Linyanti Region. Situated to the North of Savute in the corner of the park, the Linyanti Swamp is one of the prettiest areas of Chobe National Park. It is characterized by papyrus-lined waterways, vast reed banks, and beautiful riverine forests. In many ways, the Linyanti Swamp resembles the Okavango Delta in its beauty and diversity of wildlife.

Speaking of wildlife, the Linyanti Region of Chobe National Park is renowned for its large concentrations of elephants, lions, hippos, sable, and even the rare African painted dogs. The peak season for wildlife viewing in the region is during the dry winter months when wildlife concentrates near the Linyanti River for water.

In addition to land safaris in 4×4 vehicles, the area is also popular for bird walks and canoeing in the large lagoons and waterways. If you would like to take a safari in the Linyanti Region of Chobe National Parks, here are some tours that I would recommend looking at.


Savute Region

If there is one thing above all else that attracts wildlife enthusiasts to Botswana, it is the completely wild and remote viewing opportunities that it affords. When it comes to being wild and remote, few places in Botswana are more of than the Savute region of Chobe National Park. The region stretches from the park’s northern boundaries to the Linyanti River and is characterized mostly by its mysterious Savute Channel. While dry and arid for almost 30 years, it is now flowing with water again. This has attracted animals from far and wide to the lush marsh of this wilderness haven.

Above all else, the Savute Region of Chobe National Park is known for its predators. There are large prides of lions that are renowned for taking down elephants that live in the region, as well as an abundance of spotted hyenas. These apex predators hunt the large herds of buffalo, zebra, and elephants that live in the region, which makes Savute one of the best places in all of Africa to see predators in action.

If you would like to plan a safari in Savute, you will need to plan to spend a considerable amount of time in the park because of the region’s remoteness. Most tour operators will coordinate a flight into the Savute airstrip on a small plane, which can make the tours a bit more expensive. However, when you see the rugged wildness of Savute, I am sure you will agree that the extra time and money are worth it. For those that are interested, I have included some Chobe National Park safaris in Savute that I recommend below for you to review.


Ngwenzumba Pans region

The final region where you can take a Chobe National Park safari is the unique Ngwenzumba Pans region. Located about 70km (43.5 miles) south of the Chobe River, this area is characterized by a complex set of clay pans that are surrounded by grassland plains, mopane forests, and combretum thickets. With over a dozen distinct pans that collect water when it rains, the Ngwenzumba Pans region of Chobe National Park becomes an attractive area for animals when the rainy season.

This makes the region a great area to go on safari during the wet season when animals tend to stay away from the permanent water sources of the Linyanti and Chobe rivers. Even during the dry season, the water pumps that provide water to the man-made watering holes in the area ensure that there is wildlife in the area for visitors to see.

While this area of the park isn’t nearly as popular with visitors as the other regions, it does offer a unique experience for visitors who have been on safari in Botswana before and are looking for something different may crave. There aren’t a lot of tours that focus on this area of the park, so your best bet for going on safari in the Ngwenzumba Pans region of Chobe National Park is to book accommodation at one of the area’s nice lodges. I have linked to the lodge in the area I recommend below, which outlines details on the safari services and activities that they offer visitors.


Best Times to Visit

Chobe National Park Safari - Chobe Riverfront Region

Because the river runs thru the park, Chobe National Park is one of the parks in Africa where you have an excellent chance of spotting wildlife no matter what time of year you visit. However, that doesn’t mean that some parts of the year aren’t better than others. If you are in the planning phase for your Chobe National Park safari and are trying to decide what time of year it would be best to visit, I have included a wealth of information for you to review below so that you can make an informed decision.

Average Temperature (℉) by Month

One factor that you will definitely want to consider when deciding what time of year to visit Botswana to go on a Chobe National Park safari is the average temperature. During September thru November, the high temperatures can get quite hot. Typically, you will go on safari in the mornings and evenings, so that you can avoid being in the sun during the hottest time of the day. That said, it can still be quite hot while on safari and if you don’t do well in very hot temperatures, you should probably avoid these months.

On the other hand, the average low temps during May thru August can be quite chilly. They use open safari vehicles in Botswana, so you will want to prepare yourself for chilly morning game drives if you decide to visit during these months of the year. For more information on what types of temperatures to expect on your Chobe National Park safari, please refer to the chart of average temperatures I provided for you to review below.

Chart by Visualizer

Average Precipitation (Inches) by Month

Arguably the most important factor that you will want to consider when deciding what time of year to visit Botswana for your Chobe National Park safari is the amount of precipitation that the area is getting. Not only can a lot of rain put a hamper on your daily safari plans, but an abundant amount of rain can also greatly affect the likelihood that you will see animals. During the dry months of April thru October, Chobe National Park gets very little water. As the area dries out, leaves fall, and the vegetation begins to dry out as well. This makes it much easier to spot stealthy animals like the leopard.

Not only that but the amount of water available in the park begins to decline as the weather dries out as well. This means that more-and-more animals will need to visit the Chobe River and other permanent water sources to drink during the end of the dry season. This makes finding the wildlife much more predictable than it is during the wet, rainy season when water is plentiful. For more information on what levels of precipitation to expect on your Chobe National Park safari, please refer to the chart of average precipitation levels I provided for you to review below.

Chart by Visualizer

Best Months to Visit

If you are starting to plan your Chobe National Park safari and would like to know which months are best for visiting the park, I have put together a chart below that outlines which months I think are the best for visiting Chobe. I have also detailed some of the pro’s and con’s for visiting Chobe National Park during both the dry and wet seasons to assist you in determining which time of year would be best for your visit.

JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
= Excellent = Good = Fair = Poor

Dry Season (April to October)

Positives
  • There are a lot of sunny days and very little rain.
  • Boat safaris are incredible as animals congregate along the riverfront.
  • You can capture some spectacular sunsets on the river.
negatives
  • The riverfront can get very busy during the peak months of July to October.
  • It can be very dusty and dry during the peak of the dry season.
  • The end of the dry season (September and October) can be very hot.

Wet Season (November to March)

positives
  • It is birthing season for grazing animals, so there are high concentrations of predators in the park.
  • Very large concentrations of zebra and other wildlife migrate to the Savuti marsh.
  • Migrating birds visit the park, so it is the best time of year in Chobe for bird watching.
negatives
  • Less wildlife congregates at the riverfront because water is more plentiful in the park, so wildlife is less congregated.
  • The temperatures get very hot.
  • There are frequent afternoon showers, which can hamper safari plans.

Where to Stay

Chobe National Park Safari - Chobe National Park Lodge

If you do not want to book a tour for your Chobe National Park safari, there are a few options that you can choose that may save you some money. You have the option of arranging your own transportation to the park and then booking your lodging or campsite accommodations separately.

Depending on the lodging that you choose, they may offer guided game drives for guests. If so, you can take advantage of their guided game drives to see the park. If you choose a campsite or a lodge that doesn’t offer guided game drives, you will need to self-drive to see the park.

If you are in the process of planning your Chobe National Park safari and are planning to book your accommodations outside of a tour, I have included some valuable information on self-drive safaris and some recommended campsites and lodges in this section for you to review.

Chobe National Park is an incredibly large park and there are many wonderful lodges and campsites in and around the park to choose from. If you are choosing to book your own accommodations for your Chobe National Park safari adventure, I have included some of my recommendations for you to review below. These recommendations include campsites, lodges, and places with a mixture of both. I have also included some of my top picks for campsites and lodges at different price points so that you can choose the accommodations that are right for you and for your budget.

Chobe National Park Safari - Lodges and Campsites Map

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Tips and Guidelines for Self-Drive Safaris in Chobe

Doing a self-drive Chobe National Park safari has its advantages, as you can go your own pace and be on your own schedule, but it does require quite a bit of preparation and planning. If you are planning on doing a self-drive safari in Chobe National Park, there are several things that you should be aware of and prepare for before your trip. To assist you with this preparation, I have included some tips and guidelines for you to review below.

  • Park rules require that you stay on the marked roads at all times. You cannot drive off-road in Chobe National Park.
  • Target the dry season for your visit as there is far less risk of the roads being flooded.
  • Make sure you have a 4×4 vehicle with high clearance. The roads can be rough in areas and you don’t want to get stuck.
  • Let some air out of your tires while driving on the gravel and sand park roads. This will give you extra traction and help you prevent getting stuck. Just remember to re-inflate your tires before getting back on the paved roads.
  • Bring a satellite phone with you in case of emergencies.
  • Make sure you have plenty of food, water, and extra fuel with you.
  • Download the Tracks4Africa app for navigation. It is the recommended app for safari navigation in Botswana.
  • Be prepared to pay your park fees. They are paid at the park entrance gates and are valid from when you enter until the next day at 11AM. Foreigner adults cost 120Pula per person, per day and cars are 50Pula (about 10 pula is 1$USD).
  • And finally, leave yourself plenty of time to get back to your lodge or campsite before dark.

The Wildlife You May See

Chobe National Park Safari - Lions

Because of the plentiful water supply to the park by the Chobe and Linyanti Rivers and the Savute Marsh, Chobe National Park in Botswana offers visitors an impressive wealth of wildlife to view. Both Elephants and Cape Buffalo are found along the Chobe River during the dry season and the plains zebra migration to the Savute region is impressive to behold. Along with zebra, it isn’t uncommon to see wildebeest, giraffe, puku, and impala, as well as smaller numbers of greater kudu and sable antelope within the park as well.

For visitors who long to see predators, the Linyanti and Savute regions of Chobe National Park offer some of the best lion-spotting opportunities in Africa, with large lion prides inhabiting both areas. They often compete with a large density of spotted hyenas, leopards, and even occasional painted African dogs and cheetahs for food. Within the park’s rivers, it isn’t uncommon to see crocodiles sunning themselves on the banks and hippos in the water trying to escape the heat. With so much wildlife in the park, Chobe National Park continues to be one of the most popular safari destinations in Africa.

Elephant
Abundant
Giraffe
Common
Hippo
Common
Buffalo
Common
Zebra
Abundant
Wildebeest
Abundant
White Rhino
None
Black Rhino
None
Lion
Common
Leopard
Rare
Cheetah
Very Rare
Hyena
Common
Wild Dog
Occasional

Safari Tips

Chobe National Park Safari - Elephant at Chobe River

When you are on safari, especially while on a safari in Chobe National Park where you have an opportunity to see animals from land and the water, it is easy to get lost in the experience.  Being on safari is such an amazing experience and you should enjoy every single second of it.  However, if you aren’t careful, you might not get everything out of the experience that you could have.

In order to make sure that you get everything out of your Chobe National Park safari that you possibly can, I have provided some general safari tips below for you to review.

  • Be Patient and Open-Minded – When you are on safari, everything isn’t going to go according to plan.  The weather, the animal’s behavior, and other factors are going to impact where you go and what you see.  Chobe National Park provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Africa, but even in Chobe, you have to be ready to adjust your plans if necessary.
  • Safety First – It is really easy to get caught up in the safari experience and want to get the best pictures you possibly can.  However, safety should always be the primary concern.  To give you some help on how to remain safe while on safari in the Chobe National Park, I have outlined some general safety tips for you to review later in this guide.
  • Don’t Get Stuck Behind Your Camera – Everyone wants to get great pictures while on safari, and you should absolutely bring your camera and take a lot of pictures.  However, if you spend your entire time in Chobe National Park looking thru your camera, you are going to miss out on some of the experience.  I would recommend setting your camera down every-once-in-a-while and just enjoy being in such an amazing place.
  • Ask Lots of Questions – Make sure you ask your safari guide a lot of questions while you are on safari in Chobe National Park.  It is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to ask which type of animal you are looking at or why they are doing what they are doing, but your safari guide is there to answer these questions for you.  And believe me, they enjoy answering these questions.  Don’t get home and regret not asking those questions.
  • Do the Land and Boat Safaris – Unlike many wildlife parks in Africa, Chobe National Park allows you the opportunity to see the wildlife from both a safari vehicle and from a boat on the Chobe River. Each of these safari experiences allows you to get different and unique looks at the wildlife. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to do a safari by land and boat or book a tour that offers both.
  • Give Yourself Plenty of Time – Chobe National Park is a very large park, with very distinct and unique environments. Most day trips will offer safaris in the Kasane area, which allows you to do a boat and land safari near the Chobe River. However, if you want to experience some of the more wild and untamed parts of Chobe, I recommend spending multiple days in the park and exploring other parts of the park as well. One of my favorite parts of the park is the Savuti area, which borders the Okavango Delta. This is where you will find the infamous elephant hunting lion prides and see high concentrations of predators.

Safety Tips

Chobe National Park Safari - Chobe Safari

Being on Safari in Chobe National Park can be an amazing and exciting experience, but it can also be a very dangerous experience if you don’t follow the proper safety rules.  In order to ensure that your safari experience is a memorable and safe one, I have outlined some general safari safety rules for you to review below.

  • Obey your safari guide at all times – The most important safari safety tip of all is to listen to your safari guide and obey them at all times.  They are there to keep you safe, so let them.
  • Don’t stick anything out of the safari vehicle – It is never a good idea to stick anything outside of a safari vehicle.  Whether this be your arms, your feet, or your camera as you try to get a great picture, keep them inside the vehicle at all times.
  • Don’t make a lot of sudden or frantic movements in the vehicle – When you are in the safari vehicle, the animals tend to think of the vehicle and everything associated with it as one homogeneous entity.  However, if you make sudden and frantic movements, or do something else to make you stick out as apart of the vehicle, you may become an object of interest to them.
  • Never get out of the vehicle unless your guide says you can – This point cannot be stressed strongly enough. Never, and I mean never, get out of your safari vehicle unless your safari guide explicitly instructs that it is safe.
  • Never leave your tent or lodge room at night – This is another point that I cannot emphasize strongly enough.  You should never leave your tent or lodge room at night without a chaperone.  The African bush can be a dangerous place, especially at night, so make sure you follow whichever procedures your safari guide gives you for getting assistance at night.  If they don’t mention this, make sure you ask ahead of time.
  • Walk, never run – If you do find yourself outside of your vehicle and confronted by an animal (hopefully this never happens), then make sure that you stay as calm as possible, walk away slowly (never turning your back on the animal), and NEVER, EVER run away.
  • Never swim in lakes or rivers – Unless you are explicitly told by your safari guide that the waters are free of hippos and crocodiles, you should never attempt to swim in a lake, river, or pond.  Even then, I would think twice about doing it.  Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal, and crocodiles are not far behind on the list, so you always have to be safe when even approaching bodies of water.
  • Never Stand Up on Boat Safaris While Moving – This tip should be very self-explanatory, but it is an important one so I will mention it anyways. When on a boat safari, never stand up in a moving boat. Falling into the water could lead to drowning or a wildlife attack. In addition to staying seated, do not lean out of the boat or touch the water. There are wild animals in the water that may see this as an opportunity to attack.

I have been on safari in four different African countries, and Chobe is certainly one of my favorite spots. I was able to capture so many spectacular photographs during my Chobe National Park safari that I want to share with you, so I have created the Chobe safari picture gallery for you to view below. I hope you enjoy these images and that they inspire you to book your own adventure in Chobe National Park!

If you would like to view some more of my top Chobe National Park safari photos, as well as photos from some of my many other travel adventures, make sure you are following me on Instagram as well!

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Categories: Botswana, International National Parks, Travel, Travel Adventure, Travel Guides, Wildlife AdventuresTags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 comments

  1. An amazing and thorough guide. Well done, Josh!

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